The Responsible One + Partnership

Thoughts on partnership, roles, responsibility and the guilt that doesn't need to be

We drove most of the day today, throwing in the towel near Moncton, New Brunswick (Canada) just as dinnertime was closing in.

Now I'm laying on our (big, fat, featherclucking amazing) bed in The Spriglet watching My Love and feeling guilty. Because he's the responsible one tonight.

While I took the World's Cutest Human to the playground to work out some car-bound energies, he hooked up our home. After dinner — I meekly managed to microwave lasagne for my family, which was at least homemade leftovers I prepared to get us through the next two driving days — I collapsed on the bed and watched as he dried the dishes, put the car snacks away in the fridge, ground the coffee beans for the morning and prepared our breakfast gadgets (driving days mean taking things in and out of cabinets as needed, as opposed to just being set up). Then he plugged in The World's Cutest Human's "Apple pad," as she calls it, and looked for new educational apps and books to download for her to indulge in during these long car riding hours, and continued to tick down a list of things we must do at the end of a day on the road. None of which had even registered on my exhausted radar before I hit the bed.

As he was working through the list, the World's Cutest Human decided to test gravity and see what happens when she somersaults off the futon (a new trick, after watching a teenage girl do somersault flips onto an air mattress in a field two campgrounds ago). She found out that you crash to the floor and bonk your head, and he leapt to her rescue to sooth and comfort her "ouchie" before I even knew what happened.

All the while, I was in a near-coma begging for hot chocolate. I've been putting in long nights transitioning this blog into its new interwebs home, and not sleeping nearly enough. I'm not an "I'll sleep when I'm dead" kind of gal. I start to shut down after only a few days of not enough sleep.

But I feel guilty that I'm here on the bed and he's there in the kitchen (even if the two are six feet apart). I shouldn't feel any shame, though, because we are partners. I could say that I won't feel guilty because the other half of the time I am the responsible one handling the this and the that of our household when he needs to rest. But that's not necessary either... because we're partners.  

During the past three+ years in New York, we were also a great team. But a divide-and-conquer team; the kind most people are forced into in order to run a household in a 9-5 structure. That life works for a lot of people, many of whom even prefer to have his-and-her responsibilities (or his-and-his or hers-and-hers, as you are). But not for me.

I'm not the most comfortable in a you-make-the-money, I'll-make-the-bed kind of relationship. Maybe because it's not how I was raised. Maybe because those kind of roles don't make sense to me. But definitely because it allows no room for flexibility in the reality of each day. 

Some days you're on, some days you're off. And if there are tasks in the house that are specifically assigned to one person, then it leaves no room for the off days that allow us to recharge. 

I'm so grateful to have begun to experience a different kind of partnership on this journey. One that feels comfortable and makes sense to me. One that adapts to each moment. One that acknowledges the deep fatigue that instigated this voyage in the first place, and allows both of us time to rest every day through mutual support. 

Most importantly, a partnership that doesn't assign guilt or blame to an off-day or an exhausted collapse. Because if "Love Means Never Having To Say I'm Sorry" (obviously that movie line was written by Hollywood because it's a total delusion), than "Partnership Means Standing Up When The Other Half Needs To Sit Down (on the bed begging for hot chocolate)."